Quality of life (QoL) has become an integral part of breast cancer (BC) management and been considered an important endpoint of clinical trials. Our objective was to report the results of the first Tunisian study assessing the QoL in BC and to identify the specific demographic characteristics.
One hundred and ten patients with BC from the department of Medical oncology of the Abderrahman Mami hospital were enrolled in the study in April, 2018. EORTC QLQ-BR23 (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer) Questionnaire was used to assess specifically functional and symptoms scales/items of BC patients. Functional scales consisted of body image (BRBI), sexual functioning (BRSEF), enjoyment (BRSEE) and future perspective (BRFU). Symptom scales / items included systemic therapy side effects (BRST), breast (BRBS), arm (BRAS) symptoms and upset by hair loss (BRHL). A high score for a functional scale represents a healthy level of functioning and a high score for a symptom scale / item represents a high level of symptomatology.
Median age was 52 years (range, 27-75 years) and 70.9% were above the age of 40. Fifty six of patients were menopausal and 19.1% had metastatic disease. Most of women were married (68.2 %), housekeepers (46.4%) and living in urban area (61.8%). Radical surgery was performed in 45.5% of cases and 59.1% of patients were receiving chemotherapy. We identified low scores of BRSEE (47.91, ± 31.44) and BRFU (51.81, ± 37.12) and high scores of BRBS (30.50, ±25.6) and BRAS (26.74 ±24.08) indicating a poorer QoL. Whereas, BRBI (74.33±26.07), BRSEF (77.42±27.79), BRST (40.6 ±20.16) and BRHL (38.46, ± 42.66) were not associated with poorer QoL. Marital status had significant positive effect on body image (Married women: 70.83 vs 70, p = 0.03), sexual functioning (98.14 vs 70.88, p = 0.011) and future perspective (60.80 vs 22.22, p = 0.00). Systemic therapy side effects were significantly higher among patients having chemotherapy (41.53 vs 32.53, p = 0.031). Arm symptoms were as well significantly more reported in patients aged above 40 (35.41 vs 26.78, p = 0.022) and menopausal (33.33 vs 24.80, p = 0.039).
Our study demonstrates the impact of demographic factors in QoL, which need to be systematically assessed by clinicians in breast cancer care.
Clinical trial identification
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Has not received any funding.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.